Told in alternating perspectives by a varied and vocal cast of characters, Nussbaum pulls back the curtain to reveal the complicated and funny and tough life inside the walls of an institution for juveniles with disabilities. From Yessenia Lopez, who dreams of her next boyfriend and of one day of living outside those walls, to Teddy, a resident who dresses up daily in a full suit and tie, to Mia, who guards a terrifying secret, Nussbaum has crafted a multifaceted portrait of a way of life hidden from most of us.
In this isolated human warehouse on Chicago's South Side, friendships are forged, trust is built, and love affairs begin. And it's in their alliances that the residents ultimately find the strength to bond together and finally fight back against their mistreatment.
Told with humor and authenticity in voices that stay with you long past the last moments, Good Kings Bad Kings is at once strikingly original, baldly funny, and profoundly moving.
Performed by an ensemble cast, with Chris Delaine (Joanne Madsen), Lauren Fortgang (Michelle Volkmann), Emma Galvin (Yessenia Lopez), Alexander Cendese (Teddy Dobbs), David Ledoux (Ricky Hernandez), Karen Murray (Jimmie Kendrick), and Daya Mendez (Mia Oviedo).
©2013 Susan Nussbaum. Recorded by arrangement with Algonquin Books of Chapel hill, a Division of Workman Publishing Company, Inc. (P)2013 HighBridge Company
"This is fiction at its best. The story's sharp eye allows no one to take shelter, and it doesn't flinch, it is simply and breathtakingly honest. A stunning accomplishment." (Barbara Kingsolver)
Because I serve people with developmental disabilities in my professional life, I was intrigued to listen to this award-winning book. Different narrators voice the different characters and do so with the liveliness of actual stage performances. I loved it!
The whole book was well plotted and the little "reveals" about each character were all memorable.
I have to say I liked them all!
Social consciousness raising
I enjoyed the multiple narratives, although this did create an episodic story rather than one that flowed. It does not surprise me that the author is also a playwright. It was almost like listening to a reading of a script by the cast of actors.
All of the narrators were excellent. It would be difficult to select a favorite character, although I'd say Jessinia and Ricky were especially likable.
I thoroughly enjoyed this audio selection. The story centers around disabled kids and staff in a nursing home set outside Chicago. The story is compelling, realistic and yet upbeat. Each chapter is narrated from a single point of view and the chapters rotate between different lead characters. The story progresses in a linear fashion but some of the most painful details are revealed after the fact by the speaker in the next chapter. The author reveals the flaws and foibles of the main characters but you love them and root for them anyway. The multi-narrator audio production was top notch. It really enhanced the experience and made the characters that much more real. I will remember this book for a long time to come.
Say something about yourself!
The descriptions of the situations the young people were forced into were very good. Since I have worked with children that have challenging behaviors, emotional disabilities and the like, I know about some of these awful experiences.
I appreciated the different accents--although knowing children with cognitive and intellectual disabilities--the words and sentences were so far from what a person would ever hear--if he or she were in a position to converse with the youth.
I can't imagine this--no.
I wish the author would have continued writing the book with a more indepth look into what was going on in the institution--the one that housed the youth. She had so many different problems coming into focus and then letting them just fade without adequately justifying all the details and hoopla--e.g. the woman with physical disabilities that worked at ILSI--we get to know her so well and understand her role in the story--and then she gets fired and boom--she's gone.
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